Cappadocia (Kapadokya) is a region of exceptional interest, because of the fantastic and almost unreal character of its landscapes, because of its history and because of the way of life of its populations. Cappadocia covers a triangle area between Kayseri, Niğde and Nevşehir where two volcanoes, the Erciyes Dağı (Mount Argaeus) and the Hasan Dağı reach 3916m /12,850 ft and 3268m / 10,720 ft at their highest point.
Sunset on the red Valley
Goreme Love Valley
It is highly recommended to experience a hot-air balloon trip that will take you for a breathtaking flight over the lunar-shaped landscapes of Cappadocia.
Ağzıkarahan is one of the most interesting 12C Seljuk caravanserai which has thick walls reinforced with towers.
Nevşehir is the county-town of the region. Grand vizier Damat İbrahim Pasha of the Tulip Period (Lâle Devri beginning of the 18C), embellished his birth place, at the time called Muşkara, with the Kurşunlu Mosque ("the mosque covered with lead"), with a medrese, hans and hammams. Since then the place has been called Nevşehir which means "new town". A Byzantine fortress restored by the Seljuks and the Ottomans, overlooks the city. The local museum has interesting Archaeoligical and ethnographical sections.
North of Nevşehir, outside Gülşehir is a place called "Açık Saray" which means the "open palace" and which in fact was a cave-village with rock-cut dwellings and monasteries probably dating back to the 10 or 11 century. It is preferable to visit the place in the morning when the sun shines on the remarkable facades and the weird-looking formations.
The most outstanding historical monument in Gülşehir is the "Külliye" complex built by Kara Vezir Paşa in 1779 in the Ottoman Baroque style. It consists of a mosque, a medrese and fountain.
North of Gülşehir is Hacıbektaş, famous through mystic Hacı Bektaş Veli who is the founder of the Order of the Bektaşi Dervishes. The Convent has become the place of pilgrimage of Alevi Islam. Every year between 16-18 August, ten of thousands of people from communities which follow the teachings of Hacı Bektaş Veli attend the commemoration ceremonies. Conferences, exhibitions, bard contests, "semah" rituals, concerts are organized during this Festival. The Tomb of Hacı Bektaş Veli is situated in the "Pirevi" (the House of the Founder) inside the "Külliye" complex which has been transformed into the Hacı Bektaş-i Veli Museum.
Hacibektasi Veli Museum
Ortahisar which means "the fortress in the middle" is a picturesque town built around a huge tufa rock with numerous openings . Because of erosion, external walls have collapsed showing the rooms carved inside.
Uçhisar; in spite of its different shapes, this tufa rock resembles Ortahisar with which it formed a defensive chain of natural fortresses. From the top (60m/200 ft) there is a beautiful panorama over the town and neighborhood, as well as the Valley of the Pigeon Houses.
Göreme is an open-air museum. A religious community used to live in this valley. Monks carved churches and monastic buildings out of the rocks. The splendid decoration painted by artists adds to the picturesque architectural decoration. The churches which can be seen there date back to the second half of the 9th century and afterwards, and frescoes were painted around the 11th century.
- Tokalı Kilise "the Church of the Buckle,composed of the Old Chapel and the New Church, has the most spectacular frescoes.
- Elmalı Kilise "the Church of the Apple"
- Karanlık Kilise "the Dark Church" was part of a monastery and has an interesting refectory.
- Çarıklı Kilise "the Church of the Sandal" which name derives from a footprint on the ground considered as divine and located below the Ascension fresco.
- Barbara Kilisesi "the Church of St Barbara" has a pictorial simplicity with a red dominant color.
- Yılanlı Kilise "the Church of the Serpent" where St George and St Theodore are fighting against the evil under the appaearance of a serpent.
El Nazar Kilise is located inside a remote cone.
Çavuşin, the rock with a basalt cap, has been largely eroded by erosion and has partially collapsed as well as a part of the village that rose in tiers on the slopes of the cliff. On the top was the Basilica of St John the Baptist. The Church of Emperor Nicephor Phocas is located outside the village.
Zelve is the name of a valley and cave-dwelling village inhabited until the 1950s. The local population had to be moved to the new settlement of Zelve (Yeni Zelve) because of the danger caused by collapsing. Now the site is an open-air museum. Not far at Paşabağ among the vineyards, there is a large concentration of Fairy Chimneys.
Our Walking Tour in Devrent Valley
Avanos is a town located on the banks of the Kızılırmak, old Halys River, which is the longest river within Turkey. Kızılırmak means "red river" because of the presence, in this region, of iron ore that colors the silt which is collected inside caves. It is then refined in order to get the raw material necessary to the realization of ceramics. Pottery is one of the principal activities in Avanos along with wine growing and weaving. There are numerous shops and workshops where it is usually possible to try your hand at making a pot.
The Avanos International Handycraft and Pottery exhibit takes place every year in July.
Kayseri which is situated at the foot of Erciyes Dağı (Mount Argaeus 3916m/12,850 ft), was built around a Christian monastery erected by St Basil (the first bishop of Ceasarea) in the north of the ancient capital called Caesarea of Cappadocia. It rapidely developed during the Byzantine period. In the 11C an important Armenian colony settled here before the conquest of the place by the Seljuks. The Crusaders, the Mongols and the Mamelukes succeeded tı one another. Sultan Selim united the city to the Ottoman Empire in 1515.
Kayseri is the largest city in the region and is linked to İstanbul and Ankara by daily flights.
Kayseri is also a small ski resort. The culinary speciality is the "manti" , a kind of pasta filled with minced lamb meat and served with (or without according to taste) garlic. The "pide" (a thin bread dough covered and baked with any combiantion of cheese, lamb meat, egg...) made in the region are among the best in Turkey.
The main curiosities are :
The Seljuk Fortress opening on the Bazaar and its busy streets.
Honat Hatun Cami (Honat Hatun Mosque)
Döner Kümbet (the revolving mausoleum) is a richly decorated round mausoleum with a cone-shaped roof. It was built in 1276 for Djihan Hatun, the daughter of famous Seljuk sultan Alaeddin Keykubat I.
The Archaeoligical Museum also exhibits finds from Kültepe.
The Ethnographical Museum holds interesting collections from the Seljuk Period.
Also the Türbe of Princess Mahperi and the Huand Medresesi built in the 13C, Ulu Cami that is the oldest 12C mosque, Çifte Kümbet the "double mausoleum", Sahibiye and Hacı Kılıç Medrese, Hoca Hasan Küllük and Kurşunlu Mosques.
Kültepe is the ancient Hittite city Kanesh where a colony of Assyrian merchants traded metals. Numerous tablets known as "Cappadocian Tablets" and written in cuneiform scripts in the Assyrian language which are real trading records, have been found here.
The finds are exhibited in the local museum, in the Kayseri Archaeoligical Museum and in the Museum of Anatolian Civilization in Ankara.
Ürgüp is a charming and busy town whose oldest houses are either cave-dwellings or are supported by the rocks. Modern buildings are inspired by the traditional local architecture and are built with this pinkish beige cappadocian limestone. Other curiosities are the touristic village and the museum.
There are many wineries in Ürgüp where it is possible to taste and buy the famous Cappadocian wines.
The Ürgüp International Grape Harvest Festival takes place every year in September.
Mustafapaşa (Sinasos) is a charming big village where beautiful old Greek houses and other buildings with beautiful architecture can be seen. In the vicinity are the Aghios Vasilos Church and Constantine and Helen Church located in the Valley of the Monasteries and also the St Basil Chapel located in the Gömede Valley.
Cemilköy is another small picturesque village of the region.
Soğanlı is a village where women knit vivid-colored wollen socks and gloves and make very nice dolls. In the valley, deserted churches later transformed into pigeon houses have been found: Domed Church (Kubbeli Kilise), St Barbara Church, Wild Beast Church, Black Heads Church (Karabaş Kilise) etc...
Kaymaklı is an underground city with vast proportions: common rooms, dormitories, chambers, bathrooms, kitchens, storage rooms, wine cellars with wine press, stables, chapels and graves were organized on eight levels. Security was provided by huge round stones that closed the accesses and the tunnels. An inspired ventilation system, that still remarkably works, was produced by carved air shafts linked to cisterns where water was stored. Lots of underground cities have been counted in the region. However it is not possible to date them with certainty, but for example it is known that Kaymaklı was already inhabited in the 5C BC because it was referred to by Athenian Xenophon. Some of them are much more recent. From outside it was not easy to detect the existence of these cities because all entrances were camouflaged. They were used as shelters by the local populations at the time of the Arab invasions.
In case of danger huge stone wheels were used to obstruct the entrances
Derinkuyu, another large underground city on seven levels, is probably connected to Kaymaklı. Like in the latter, descending is possible through a net of steep narrow passeways that reach galleries leading to different sections.
Ihlara Canyon is a deep and narrow 20 km/12 miles long gorge cut through the tufa by the Melendiz which was once a raging river.
The picturesque village spreads on both edges of the canyon. From the entrance and after descending 300 steps to the bottom of the canyon, an enjoyable trekking path leads to many churches like Ağaçlı Kilise (the Church under the Trees), Yılanlı Kilise (the Church of the Serpent), Sümbüllü Kilise (Hyacinth Church)...
Seljuk caravanserai Sultanhanı ,which is the largest in Anatolia, is located on the main road which once linked Konya to Persia via Kayseri, Sivas and Erzurum. It was built by Sultan Alaatin Keykubat in 1229. It is composed of two sections, an open one used mostly for animals that would share the covered section with people on bad weather conditions. Caravanserais were set up every 25-40 km/ 15-26 miles according to the distance a camel could walk in a day. Inside, traders and travellers were provided with many facilities such as places to sleep and have something to eat, hammams, mosques, doctors and veterinaries, libraries...